Right now, many of the firs, pines, and spruce in the fields are in the process of becoming Christmas trees. As a retailer, you likely either grow them yourself to sell or have the inventory come to you. Either way, here are some safety tips to keep in mind.
If you grow trees and have a cut-your-own area, allow customers to choose their trees, but have your workers cut the trees. Provide only manual bow-type saws for customer use, then supervise the cutting. Trees can be heavy, and if they fall the wrong way with children present, you could end up facing a significant lawsuit.
If you grow trees strictly for wholesale, check any pertinent contracts with retailers for hold harmless requirements. Use your sales contract to avoid holding others harmless, or simply cross out any hold harmless language that’s written against you if it’s in someone else’s contract. Once you release your product to retailers, you’re not in control of the display or condition. You may not be able to dictate all terms of the transaction, but do your best to protect against claims that may come from consumers, and avoid accepting liability or responsibility for the actions or products of others.
If you’re a Christmas tree retailer, there are other factors you should take into consideration—from tree displays to advertising. Here are some tips to think about:
- Display trees in a safe manner: Trees will be moved around, so have employees available to help move them and check the stands for stability.
- Make no assertions: Share industry standards for care and water—but don’t make claims regarding safety, freshness at the time of purchase, or how long the trees will stay fresh.
- Think about safety: When packing trees for transport, consider all aspects of the journey.
If you have employees load trees onto customer vehicles, don’t allow the customers to help. Their help can create liability arguments against you—for example, they may blame your employee for getting poked in the eye or straining their shoulder or back.
Preferably, have customers load their own trees, but make sure your employees clearly instruct them how to do it—stump facing toward the front—and provide tie-down materials. Also, have disclaimers regarding any damages done from the self-loading process and include them on your sales receipt in clear language.
Protect your business
Regardless of where you are in the chain of Christmas tree commerce, protect yourself with vendor agreements and additional insured endorsements. While Christmas trees seem innocent enough, they come with their share of liability risks. If you have any questions, want to look at additional coverage, or see what your current policy covers, talk with your Hortica representative.
Learn more about protecting your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.
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